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Important Retirement Reminders: What To Include In Your To-Do List

When it comes to retirement reminders, don’t forget to keep crossing items off that important list.

It’s time to prioritize your retirement reminders list.

Before the age of smartphones, we used to post notes on a refrigerator for a reason. It was just a little reminder for something that’s important but not important enough that it’s at the forefront of our mind. It may have been a grocery list to remind us to pick up milk or bread or of the time of a doctor’s appointment. Some even posted notes to remind them to relax or eat healthy. It was simply tips to help themselves lead a better life.

There’s plenty of tidbits like that when it comes to preparing for your retirement as well and taking care of your financial health in general.

Becoming debt free is important but it becomes even more so when we approach retirement. And nothing is as important to debt as your home.

If people own a home, they should evaluate how much they owe and consider whether or not they’re going to stay in it for the long term. If not, they should consider their future strategy for selling it and put a plan in place for downsizing, even if it’s years in the future, retirement experts say.

“Paying off your house isn’t an advantage unless you’re going to stay in your home forever,” says Melody Juge, a retirement planner and founder and managing director of Life Income Management, which is based in North Carolina and South Carolina.

While contemplating your future living arrangements, people need to do some short-term savings when the year kicks off to ensure you have enough cash reserves in an emergency. That means saving enough money not for retirement purposes but to have in case of job loss or some health catastrophe that would give you a cash emergency fund of six months to a year. You don’t want to draw from your investments for that purpose.

No matter what age you are, that’s a strategy all of us should heed when the New Year starts, Juge says.

While you’re setting aside cash for emergencies, it’s a great time to review and manage your risk profile when it comes to the stock market. Because the market is booming, so many people think that now is the time to get aggressive to make more money for their retirement.

“Many people are setting themselves up for disaster,” Juge says. “The market will crash. I don’t know if it will be four days, four years or 14 years. That last thing you want to be is 73 and have a loss of 30 percent to 60 percent in your portfolio.”

Juge says the only way people can outlive their income is to live beyond their means, and people should start to restructure their lives to better prepare themselves for retirement.

If you live a lifestyle that costs $5,000 a month and you’re making $7,000 a month, that lifestyle isn’t going to work when you retire and have only $3,600 a month.

“Obviously, you have to downsize,” Juge says. “It has to be serious downsizing. You don’t have to give up the things you enjoy. You have to restructure them. If you love concerts, you go to free concerts. You have to address the reality.”

One technical item on that list is to remind people the federal government has changed the allowance for IRA rollovers, and you need to be careful how you handle IRA funds, Juge says.

People with a $400,000 401(k) who want to take out $100,000 and invest it and return it in 60 days, can no longer do that more than once a year, Juge says. If you do and some people forget, they must pay a stiff penalty.

The New Year is also a great time to check on paperwork as you approach retirement, Juge says. If people care about their family and friends, they should double check their beneficiaries on all of their accounts, policies and investments.

“You want to check them, especially if you’re in a second marriage,” Juge says.

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